The Tragedy of Lonesome George

When I read about the death of the Pinta Island Tortoise Lonesome George and the species unfortunate extinction, I thought “what a tragedy.”

When I saw his picture, I thought “ … by Shakespeare”.

Not only does George wind up dead at the end of the tale (a major requirement in any downer by the Bard), but he’s probably misunderstood and totally delusional. After all, wouldn’t you be?

Imagine – everyone around George hesitates to put it into words, but they look at him with a profound sense of pity. He is, after all, the last of his kind. They try to make his sad predicament more bearable by providing the company of one or more Lady Tortoises, but George feigns a lack of interest. He is actually quite randy, as old tortoises go, but he is waiting. Only another Pinta Island Tortoise can win his love.

Although there is this ONE she-tortoise, Gregarious Jane, who looks pretty good … great, in fact. But George cannot allow himself to fall in love because his responsibility is to the ages.

It breaks his heart, but he must remain available in case another Pinta Island Tortoise comes along. What are the chances? Almost nil, and yet …

Meanwhile, the Lady Jane confides to her (hilarious) Reptile-in-Waiting MeShell that she IS, in fact, a certified, pedigreed P.I.T., but she forbids anyone to mention it to George because she does not want to be loved only as a means to forestall extinction. If he can’t love her for who she is without regard for the effect it might have on posterity, well … maybe it’s better that the species disappears forever.

Lovers always think the world revolves around them!

Hmmm. Now that I consider it, there could be some silly hijinks, a bit of cross-dressing and a little mistaken identity back-and-forth with various characters hiding in their shells while other tortoises parade across the stage and talk as if no one else is in the room … and it could wind up as a comedy after all.

But George and Jane would have to realize their true identities and see that they are, in fact, right for one another.

But no. He dies. So alas, it’s a tragedy. Unless you have a better idea.

What ho! Supply a character, a line, or some story element for your version of Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy (or Comedy) of Lonesome George”.

73 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Lonesome George”

  1. love, a sad and sorry nectar and a momentary bliss encouraging one to commit to a binding and lasting sorrow and malcontent based on the notion that integrity and fervor that are felt in the moment can be continued and maintained beyond the flickering light and lead to a lifetime of contentment that will feed the soul and bear the fruit of friendship and fulfillment ending the search for the soulmate we all dream of and in believing loose the essence of ones true self in an effort to compromise the soul and become the partner one aspires to and the other expects losing the joy of self and the celebration of being in the midst of the charade never again to realize the purity of truth for its own sake and the totallity of oneness that can be enjoyed in the encasement of ones own shell.
    passion, that soul central desire of the ages that causes minds to be eclipsed by synapsing neurons of chemistry embedded by a cruel and sadistic maker to continue this unhappy epic search of perfection which will be proclaimed a joke played by a timeless hormone surge inherited from our forefathers whose shells ached with the same disappointments and cried over the same shortcomings in this swamp of momentary delusion we call life.


  2. Isn’t there always a twin or younger brother who no one knew about who will show up and woo Lady Jane so they can perpetuate the species?


  3. If we turtles have offended,
    Think but this, and all is mended
    That you have but lumbered here
    Whilst these ladies did appear
    And this weak and shell-filled theme,
    No more yielding than ice cream
    Humans, do not make us soup
    Else we might decide to poop
    And as I am an honest Tort
    If we are still a stinky sort
    Now to ‘scape a chef’s roulade
    We will be tortuga shade
    Else the George a liar call
    So ta-ta unto you all
    Give me your claws, if we be pals
    And Lonesome will love up the gals


    1. “Midsummer” is a favorite of mine – during my (blessedly) brief career onstage, it was one of the shows I was in. Puck’s epilogue just begs to be played with, really…


  4. O, Jane that hath a heart of that fine frame
    To pay this debt of love but to a species,
    How will she love, when the rich golden shaft
    Hath kill’d me off, her flock of all affections else
    That live in her; when liver, brain and heart,
    These sovereign thrones, are all shriveled, and unfulfill’d
    Her sweet perfections gone with my one self!
    Away before me to sweet beds of flowers:
    Death-thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers.


  5. I see a lot of slow movements (blocking). “…tortoises parade…”? Well, parading slowly…

    OT: saw John Prine here Saturday night. It was the last show of this leg of the tour and he played for a solid two hours. At the end, he introduced the crew, including one crew member who played mandolin for the last song. He got younger as the show went on.
    It was a rowdy crowd– not counting ourselves. People were very enthused. Including the drunk lady that tried to get onstage, slipped as she stepped over the railing before security could get there, and then sat there for awhile before getting down. And as John finished the song he came downstage and gave her a kiss.


    1. i saw him last time he was in minneapolis and he hasnt faded he has aged. the view on the songs he wrote 40 years ago and the ones since are inspirational.

      well your flag decals wont get you into heaven anymore,
      theyre already overflowing form your dirty little war.
      jesus dont like killin no matter what the reasons are
      and you flag decals wont get you into heaven any more


    1. He’s who I think of when I hear when I hear “Lonesome George” – loved his variety show, it’s where Carol Burnett got her start.


  6. A Tortoise, one Tortoise, last Tortoise. Creeps along his petty pace from day to day. The last spiral of this DNA. And all his yesterdays have lighted his way to solitary death. Gone, gone his species. No more seen his crawling foot treads. Ancient reptile who strutted and fretted his time upon across the sand and now is seen no more. It is a parable told by ecology, an empty carapace, holding nothing.


    1. bravo de bleu. i posted earlier but between anonymous status and other challenges i failed to applaud as intended. prey continue with thy artful snappy patter and cynicism that marks thy posts. thou art the lord of the artful retort and thy melancholy retorts are well noted and blogfully appreciated.


  7. Wow! You guys are remarkable! I’ll offer a little Cole Porter since I’m too young to be expected to be very familiar with Shakespeare.

    Too darn dead
    Too darn dead
    I’d like to croon for my baby tonight
    And even spoon with my baby tonight
    I’d like to croon for my baby tonight
    Shoot for the moon with my baby tonight
    But I’d be a prune for my baby tonight
    Cause I’m too darn dead


    1. Hilarious, Donna! But what the heck do you mean “too young to be expected to be very familiar with Shakespeare”? As if some of us went to school with him. Come to think of it, Steve might have?


        1. One of the best kept secrets about Ames, Iowa is that William Shakespeare spent one school year in Ames as an exchange student. During his stay, his best friend was a young man named Steve Grooms.


      1. When I was a kid in high school, Shakespeare was a rowdy college student who was infamous for getting drunk and tossing off silly quotes. “Is this a keg I see before me?” Lines like that. “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant just get bombed out of their skulls.” He majored in British history, which meant he never had to go to class.


  8. To clone, or not to clone, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler through the magic of modern science to reverse the fate of Lonesome George and resurrect him: to die, to sleep
    no more; and by modern technology, we end the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?


    1. Do we really have the right to intercede in George’s obvious commitment and resolve to end this toil of reptilian plight. To sleep perchance to dream of galopogos in the days of youth, before the gasoline engine before pigs and goats decimated the salad bar that was the galopogos prior known. If he were a mosquito his resolve to protest the slings and arrows of what had been bequithed to his ilk would have lasted 24 hours and gone unnoticed but being patient and tortiscular in his resolve to maintain his vigil with no korvorkian bent it did 143 years longer take and to undermine that unequivocable stand and make his abstained vote be the only one that mattered to his spices. Man plunders invades imprisons and wants to adapt the anguish to appear heroic. Too late. Bring him back to what?


      1. Methinks thou doth protest too much! Both here and hence pursue us lasting strife. There is special providence in the fall of a tortoise. True is it that we have seen better days, yet I have seen a medicine that’s able to breathe life into a dead tortoise. Ask not back to what or wherefore, ask why not!


  9. I know a bank where the DNA stows,
    Where the good Dr. Kyle greenly glows,
    Quite ready to compound George on a vine,
    At Genway soon: tortoise-flavored eglantine.


  10. Get thee to a hatchery.
    Cry Havoc and let slip the tortoises of war.
    In, in damn appendages.
    Et tu, Geochelone abingdoni.
    By the pricking of his shell, nothing erotic rang his bell.


  11. The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest have borne most; we that are young Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

    king lear

    god rest you lonesome george. thy


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